Senate GOP Will Block Confirmation of Judges

The Senate GOP has announced that they will block any appeals or supreme court nominations made by President Barack Obama until after the 2012 elections.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,  said in an interview with Politico that his party was invoking the “Thurmond Rule,” an unwritten and rather non-specific rule that the Senate will not take up judicial nominees in the waning days of a president’s tenure.

“We’ve reached about that point,” McConnell told Politico. “I think it’s important to underscore, the only thing the other side is adversely impacted by would be a delay of six months.”

An angry chairman

The move drew an angry response from Judiciary Committee Chair Pat Leahy, D-Vt., who cited the unprecedented number of judicial vacancies.

“I have yet to hear a good explanation as to why we cannot work to solve the problem of high vacancies for the American people,” Leahy said.

The Thurmond Rule, named for the late white supremacist Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., has different meanings and mechanisms depending on the source. The rule had its genesis during the nomination of Abe Fortas to be chief justice of the Supreme Court, a nomination which came in the final summer of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s tenure.  The rule is sometimes cited as blocking nominations during the last six months of a “lame-duck” presidency, that is to say, of a president not seeking reelection. Other times, it’s cited as meaning that nominations should not advance in the latter part of an election year without consent of both party leaders.

Sometimes yes, sometimes no

The rule has been observed about as one would expect an unwritten, ill-defined rule to be observed. In 2004, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Ut., said that the rule did not apply, saying that when Thurmond was chair of the Judiciary Committee, he “could say whatever he wanted to, but that didn’t bind the whole committee, and it doesn’t bind me.”

The rule has often been bent or ignored. Steven Breyer was confirmed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in December of 1980, after President Jimmy Carter had already been defeated by President Ronald Reagan. In 2008, the Democratic-controlled Senate voted to confirm 10 district court nominees in September, despite the fact that it was an election year and President George W. Bush was a lame-duck president.

Nevertheless, McConnell said he would start obstructing nominees immediately.

“[T]his has been the case for 30 years that when we we’re at this stage in the presidential election year, both sides have kind of agreed no matter which side is in the majority that you have a pause in circuit judges,” the Republican leader said. “But the person who wins the election – which could very well be a current occupant – gets to make the appointment.”

Assuming that is true, Obama might be happy with the turn of events. The Republicans have generally chosen not to let Obama make appointments no matter when in his term he chooses to make them.

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Image Credit: DCTim1


Leah H.
Leah H5 years ago

This hardly qualifies as news. The Republicans have been blocking every nomination they possibly can in the hope that an agency without a leader or a federal judgeship without anyone on the bench will help to prove that the government can't get anything done. They are willing to do anything to destroy the country for their own gain. The rest of us? We are just collateral damage.

Paula G.
Paula G5 years ago

Good thing lady justice is blind. If you took off that blindfold she would probably turn back into a puddle of stone.

Robert Hardy
Robert Hardy5 years ago

It is obvious that the Republican Party is only interested in the needs of their corporate bosses. No democracy here.

Ira L.
Ellie L5 years ago

TREASON. Mitch McConnell should be tried for treasonous behavior -- blatant obstruction to the point of treasonous behavior. Charge him with all counts and throw him in jail. He is despicable. An animal. Pig.

Charles P.
Charles P5 years ago

The majority rules - shit! If the dems lose the majority in the house and the presidency in 2012 they h ad better remember what these repugnant bastards did to t hem and us during B.O.'s administration. If they don't, they won't be in office much longer.

Kelly Rogers5 years ago

Why would they do something to help the President now???? If they did I would think they all fell into an alternate universe, or Roswell is real.

Frances C.
Frances C5 years ago

What else is new?
This is your tea party at Not Work. Our Good for nothing Republicans lawmakers.

Vote Democratic!

Obama Biden 2012

Howard Evans
Howard Evans5 years ago

One more example of Mitch McConnell tripping over his own lies. Now it's too late in the term. This is about McConnell's seventh excuse for blatant obstructionism. Trent Lott, Bob Dole, Howard Baker and Hugh Scott would never have practiced this kind of overt dysfunctionalizing of the system.

End the 60 vote requirement; 51 votes invokes cloture. While we're at it, end the hold system too. When the loyal opposition becomes the perpetual opposition, the rules must change.

antonia maestre
antonia maestre5 years ago

Why am I not surprised?

Julie D.
Julie D5 years ago

The GOP has done nothing but try to obstruct any and everything that could possibly be of benefit to our country and our people. It is hardly surprising that they would try to block this also, it is actually expected. The only solution, vote every one of them out of office, at every level at every opportunity.